Bioethanol & Biofuels

Bio-fuel manufacturer corn silos

Helping companies better understand their processes in the production of sustainable bio-based resources and industrial fermentation products such as biofuels – bioethanol and biodiesel.

Improve your yield, capacity, and productivity

The growing demand for bio-renewable products is creating new opportunities and manufacturing challenges. The Keit IRmadillo enables continuous, real-time reaction monitoring of the bioethanol production process with a compact, robust instrument.

Bioethanol Production Monitoring

The IRmadillo FTIR process analyser monitors what’s going on in production lines, tanks and vats:

  • Provides direct observation of feedstocks converting into bioethanol – in real time
  • Differentiates between different sugars, acids and alcohols – with one instrument
  • Monitors reactions for peak production – without waiting for HPLC results
Keit's IRmadillo 20-hr fermentation monitoring
Keit's IRmadillo monitoring a sucrose fermentation over a 20-hour period.

How do you accurately measure the end point of a fermentation?

It is well known that once yeast has finished consuming sugars to produce ethanol in a production process, it then starts consuming the ethanol it has produced – this eats into profits.  Knowing when the fermentation process has peaked is crucial.

The challenge with HPLC sampling is that it is never entirely clear if the fermentation has finished until the ethanol concentration either stabilises or decreases over two extractions. With the IRmadillo, you can continuously monitor reactions. You’ll know very quickly when the process has finished. You can then stop the fermentation and not risk losing any ethanol.

This could even let you fit in more fermentations, maximising capacity for your plant – ultimately increasing profits.

Keit's IRmadillo continuously monitors ethanol over time

Spot problems early, and fix them

The IRmadillo quickly lets you see exactly what’s going on in your bioethanol process. So, if something does go wrong, there is time to fix it and not lose the batch. For example:

  • Lactic acid rises early on: you’ve just spotted an infection early; you’re much more likely to be successful in resolving it with antibiotics. You can also be much smarter with your use of antibiotics, driving down costs.
  • DP4 doesn’t break down into DP3 and maltose as quickly as expected: if the enzyme is unhappy, or wasn’t added, then that’s a batch wasted. If you can spot this quickly enough, you’ve got time to dose it and carry on – problem fixed.
  • Glycerol levels spike: stressed yeast is always bad. This is your alert to double check everything is as it should be; if not, you’ve got time to resolve it and save the batch.

Trustworthy, on-line measurement

You may well be running your own improvement programs to maximise output and efficiency. But without a trustworthy, on-line measurement, this can be slow and nearly impossible.

The IRmadillo gives you the high-level of information you’d expect from a lab measurement, but with the update frequency you’d expect from a temperature probe or pH probe. This means you can make a change and get real-time updates on what it does to your process and at multiple points in your process.

Keit's IRmadillo fits into the bioethanol process

“I’ve tried FTIR in the past, but…”

It’s easy to confuse FTIR (mid-infrared) with FT-NIR (near infrared). There was a big push a few years ago in the industry to get near-infrared instruments (FT-NIR) into plants. However, near infrared is very different to the mid-infrared light that the IRmadillo uses (FTIR).

FT-NIR instruments don’t actually look directly at the chemical bonds, but at “overtones”. This is a bit like trying to recognise someone from their shadow rather than looking at their face. It gives you a rough idea who it is, but to get full understanding you need the whole picture.

The graph below shows a comparison of the IRmadillo with an FT-NIR instrument monitoring glucose, fructose and ethanol during a sucrose fermentation. The FT-NIR has much bigger error for the glucose and ethanol, and cannot monitor the fructose at all. This means it would never be able to differentiate between DP4+, DP3 and maltose – while the IRmadillo can.

IRmadillo FTIR vs NIR

Want to know more?

Visit our Application page, or send us a message to find out how the IRmadillo can help your company better monitor your processes.

Download our bioethanol monitoring brochure

Fill out the form below and click the button Get Bioethanol Brochure and you will immediately be directed to an on-line PDF version. Your submitted contact information will remain private. We will retain your information for the purpose of replying to your request if appropriate, and to monitor the effectiveness of our content.

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